Once the sun was well up, Aoife looked out over the lake, inhaling deeply. “Come over later for after-dinner coffee,” she said, freeing herself from his arms and bending to retrieve her paintbrush. “When the children are in bed. I’d rather tell Uncle Humph and the adults when they aren’t around. I’ll call you. I promise. You don’t mind a walk or two in the dark, do you?”
“No; I like walking in the dark. There’s something really relaxing about a stroll on a clear night. Besides, I want you to meet two new members of the family. I’ll bring them along. You’ll love them.”
“I expect I will. As for who they are, I won’t press it. I hope I can rely on you not to bring any bandits along.”
“Bandits? Don’t you think that’s rather far-fetched? I don’t know any bandits. You can trust me. Will you wear the ring now, or won’t someone notice it?”
“They won’t,” Aoife assured him with shining eyes, glancing down at the glinting citrine ring on the fourth finger of her left hand: her new prize possession. “They won’t notice if I don’t put any outward significance on it. I’ll ring you up.”
“I know you will.”
He kissed her on the cheek and she took up her art utensils. Then she gave him a wave and ran lightly down the path, late for breakfast at the chalet. She now knew the meaning of the saying that lovers do not know the meaning of time. She gave him a radiant smile across the lake as she reached Pertisau half an hour later, and although he could not see it, and could barely see her, indeed, he knew the smile was there.
Aoife walked away in a kind of perfect dream. How wonderful was that feeling of passionate safe love. Liking someone was nice, but being engaged was different. It felt like she was secure and loved for the rest of her life. It felt so natural and yet it made her heart race. She had never felt anything like it. One thing she knew. She and Vinzent were meant to be together, as Dan had said. Dan had been right. Very right. Passing on the same message to two people had encouraged them to be bold, and now it had all come true.
Sometime in November after her twentieth birthday Aoife and Vinzent would be joined together forever. Aoife knew that this was the type of relationship that would last. Marriage was supposed to be for life. She knew that, and so did Vinzent, and they both knew that their marriage would be eternal.